Title: Map of the Heart by Susan Wiggs
Publisher: William Morrow
Genre: Contemporary, Historical (WWII), Romance, Women’s Fiction
Length: 368 pages
Book Rating: B+
Complimentary Review Copy Provided by Publisher Through Edelweiss
Love and family. War and secrets. Betrayal and redemption.
#1 New York Times bestselling author Susan Wiggs returns with a deeply emotional and atmospheric story that spans oceans and decades, from the present-day Delaware shore to the battlefields of WWII France.
Widowed by an unspeakable tragedy, Camille Palmer has made her peace with the past and settled into the quiet safety of life with her teenage daughter Julie in a sleepy coastal town. Then the arrival of a mysterious package breaks open the door to her family’s secret past. In uncovering a hidden history, Camille has no idea that she’s embarking on an adventure that will utterly transform her.
Camille, Julie, and Camille’s father return to the French town of his youth, sparking unexpected memories — recollections that will lead them back to the dark days of the Second World War. And it is in the stunning Provençal countryside that they will uncover their family’s surprising history.
While Provence offers answers about the past, it also holds the key to Camille’s future. Along the way, she meets a former naval officer who stirs a passion deep within her — a feeling that she thought she’d never experience again.
Map of the Heart by Susan Wiggs is a beautifully rendered, poignant novel that mainly takes place in the present but also flips back in time to World War II in order to solve an intriguing family secret.
Camille Palmer Adams was at one time fearless and adventuresome as she embraced love and life without reservation. However, five years ago, in a heart-stopping instant, a tragic loss changed her into a woman who now refuses to take risks and rarely steps out of the sedate, safe life she has created with her fifteen year old daughter Julie. After experiencing another life-altering moment, Camille becomes aware that she has somehow overlooked some important changes in her daughter. Will this stunning realization allow her to see past her own fears in order to allow Julie the freedom to spread her wings and enjoy life to the fullest? Or will Camille continue to let her past to shape her future?
Camille is quite close with her father, Henri Palmer, who left his small town in the French countryside to emigrate to America. As an American who romanticizes and idealizes the French, I immediately turned to my husband and asked, “why would a Frenchman abandon an idyllic life in FRANCE to permanently move to the United States?” The answer to that question stretches back to World War II and the beautiful, brave woman who refused to allow the Germans to defeat her after they invade her small country village.
In Map of the Heart, Susan Wiggs seamlessly weaves these two seemingly disparate story arcs into a heartwarming novel of healing and love. The novel’s picturesque settings spring vibrantly to life and readers will have no difficulty visualizing the coastal town of Bethany Bay or the bucolic French countryside. The characters are multi-dimensional with true to life human frailties and foibles that make them easy to relate to as they attempt to make peace with their respective pasts. I absolutely adored and highly recommend this captivating novel to fans of the genre.